Posts Tagged 'Company'

June 22, 2012

Building the SoftLayer Team - Inside and Outside the Office

Almost a year ago, I walked into SoftLayer for the first time as an employee, but it wasn't my first encounter with the business. I knew quite a bit about SoftLayer (and what it would be like to work for SoftLayer) because a family member and more than a handful of friends were already SLayers. By the time applied to join the company as an "API Evangelist," I had high expectations ... Or so I thought. As it turns out, I had no idea how outstanding working for SoftLayer would be.

When people talk about company culture, you usually hear buzzwords like "collaborative environment," "team-oriented," "transparency" and "progressive thinking." To a certain extent, they all sound a little forced and cliche, and it almost kills me that they're exactly the words I'd use to honestly describe my SoftLayer experience. Why? Because every day, I see people collaborating on news ways to innovate, execute code more efficiently and improve our systems ... And not only do I see that happening, I feel involved in those conversations as well.

In a day and age where it seems most companies do business like they are herding sheep, it's pretty phenomenal to work in an environment where employees are encouraged to speak, and when they speak, they are heard.

A surprisingly large part of SoftLayer's company culture involves getting employees out of the office. Yes ... I said out of the office! From baseball games to barbeque contests to dragon boat races, the SoftLayer team actually becomes more of a "team" when we leave the office. In my previous jobs, the last thing I'd want to do at 5:00pm on a Friday would be to spend a couple more hours with my work desk's neighbor. These days, I look forward to the chances to hang out with my coworkers outside the office. I know it sounds cheesy, but it's the truth.

Just look at the Pink Soles in Motion fundraiser to raise money and support the Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Did it make a difference that the event was on a Saturday? Absolutely not. You could see SLayers in their SoftLayer gear everywhere you looked.

I am always impressed by the sheer number of people who love what they do and love being a part of SoftLayer. If you subscribe to the "SoftLayer Culture" RSS feed, you'll see exactly what I'm talking about ... That category is filled with posts from employees who can't help but share their love for SoftLayer with the world. When you get so many passionate and enthusiastic people under one roof, you get a with contagious excitement and the shared purpose of providing the best possible products and services to our customers.

When I walk through the office and see happy people talking about their work, I know I'm in the right place.

Thanks for the one-year anniversary, SoftLayer! It's been a great year.

If you want to put the SoftLayer culture to the test, check out the available Careers at SoftLayer to find an opportunity that can bring you onto the team. You won't be disappointed.

-Sarah

Categories: 
February 7, 2012

Social Media Exclusive: Bobblehead Bonus

SoftLayer has a unique culture. As SLayers, we get company-inspired tattoos, we outfit ourselves (and our families) in SoftLayer gear, we take part in goofy videos, and every now and then, someone gets a shower of 10,000 bouncy balls.

Our company culture is no accident; it has grown organically from the day SoftLayer was born, and the executive management team has been instrumental in showing that it's okay to have fun when you're at work ... and the company's phenomenal growth speaks to that philosophy's success. The latest example of tomfoolery came in the form of customized bobbleheads of many of members on the SoftLayer management team:

SoftLayer BobbleheadSoftLayer BobbleheadSoftLayer BobbleheadSoftLayer BobbleheadSoftLayer Bobblehead
 

Because we happened to have ten extra sets of these bobbleheads, we thought some of our customers might enjoy building a collection of their very own. If you places a new order in the next few months and you're one of the first ten SoftLayer customers to email your order information to the social media team at twitter@softlayer.com, we'll send you that month's "Bobblehead Bonus":

  • February 2012 - Lance Crosby, Chief Executive Officer
  • March 2012 - Tom Blair, Senior Vice President Global Sales
  • April 2012 - Nathan Day, Chief Scientist
  • May 2012 - Duke Skarda, Chief Technology Officer
  • June 2012 - Sam Flietman, Chief Operating Officer
  • July 2012 - George Karidis, Chief Strategy Offcier

To keep everyone on the same page, here are the "official rules":

  1. One Bobblehead Bonus per SoftLayer account per month.
  2. Order must be placed in the same month the bobblehead is requested.
  3. Bobblehead Bonus request email must be sent to twitter@softlayer.com and it must include your SoftLayer account number, order number and the shipping address you'd like us to use.
  4. The bobbleheads will be awarded on a first-emailed, first served basis.
  5. Only 10 bobbleheads are available each month.

If the set I have in my office window is any indication, having a complete SoftLayer bobblehead collection will make you the envy of all of your friends and coworkers. The idea behind this fun little giveaway is to reward you for being an engaged, loyal SoftLayer customer.

Let's be honest ... You've probably been on the fence about ordering a new cloud instance or dedicated server, so what more do you need to hear than "Free SoftLayer Bobblehead" to get you to pull the trigger?

-@khazard

P.S. We've also got a few bobbleheads earmarked for employees who contribute to the SoftLayer Blog. If you're a SLayer and you want your own set of bobbleheads, you better start writing!

January 13, 2012

The Challenge of Conveying Culture

Last week, Cracked.com ran an article about "9 Quirky Things Every 'Cool' Workplace Is Required to Have." The post points out several seemingly trite characteristics of "trendy" and "fun" companies, and SoftLayer was one of the companies the author used to illustrate her point about quirky conference room names. The "obscure inside jokes" we chose as the naming convention for our conference rooms in our Dallas headquarters inspired this fantastic analogy:

I'm sure visiting vendors and consultants enjoy as much as adults enjoy hearing a gaggle of teenage girls joke about which one of them is the craaaziest.

The post's mock homage to "fun company culture" as seen by outsiders got me thinking ... Why do I think SoftLayer is such a cool place to work, and how could I talk about that in a way that didn't seem hokey or insincere? Given the cynicism of the Internet in general, it may be impossible to execute, so I realize that all I can do is give my honest take on why I enjoy coming to work every day:

SoftLayer's culture is defined authentically and organically by our people, traditions and stories.

I agree that red walls, orange couches and scooters in an office do not create a cool workplace, and I don't think our "obscure inside joke" conference room names make us cool either. When we moved to our new headquarters in Dallas, every employee at the company was encouraged to submit ideas for what we should name the rooms, and after voting on dozens of great ideas, the "inside joke" submission from SoftLayer General Council Suzy Fulton ended up winning (and Suzy was awarded an iPad for submitting the winning idea). The reason her naming convention won is what makes SoftLayer a great place to work: Each name gives a different piece of the overall story that explains, "This is who we are, what we do and where we come from."

Take our conference room named Muenster for example. Muenster is a small town in Texas where the annual GermanFest is held. The 3 Bars BBQ team breaks out their secret recipes to compete with other BBQ teams from around the state, and the coworkers that don't don aprons get to kick back and eat some awesome BBQ, enjoy a drink (or two... or three...) and have a great time. The event has been such a fun tradition that we wanted to incorporate it into our new office for the days we're not eating brisket fresh off the grill. It means something to SoftLayer as a company, and if vendors/consultants coming into the office don't appreciate it in the same way, we're pretty sure we'll survive. Naming conference rooms to the least common denominator would sure be functional, but in practice, it would be (ironically) "outside the box" for SoftLayer.

We're just group of people (with a few inside jokes) working together to create the best hosting experience in the business. We value both customers and employees. We like startups (because we were a startup a few short years ago), innovation, automation and BBQ. We have fun together, and as a result, we have plenty of stories to tell (and more obscure inside jokes to use for our next conference rooms).

Oh, and we're also "guilty" of having a few red accent walls, employees riding around on scooters (and Segways), Nerf guns, foam rockets, and foosball tables in our offices. If that means getting mentioned in the same (mocking) breath as Facebook, Yahoo!, Zappos and Twitter, we're in a pretty good spot.

-Summer

December 20, 2011

Giving: Better Than Receiving

The holiday season for many of us is a time for giving and reflecting back on what we are thankful for, and this year has been an awesome one for SoftLayer. As a result of that awesomeness, we've been able to help several organizations raise money and awareness ... So many that we recently created a Charity Committee to find groups and organizations we can support in the future. Why would we need a committee to do that? Here's a snapshot of a few of the organizations we've helped this year:

Carter BloodCare – Carter BloodCare is a blood center who delivers 330,000 units of lifesaving blood components each year. This year the organization setup a mobile blood drive outside of our headquarters so that any employee who wished to donate could. To learn more about Carter BloodCare, visit http://carterbloodcare.org/.

Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center - The SLayers in Dallas weren't the only ones with an opportunity to donate blood. In Houston, the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center set up shop in one of our conference rooms to accept donations. The Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center serves the largest medical campus in the world, so they're always grateful for people who "Commit For Life." To learn more about the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center, go to http://giveblood.org/.

American Heart Association – American Heart Association's mission is "To build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke." This year SoftLayer split up into teams to compete to see who could raise the most money. The Marketing team alone raised over $7,500! To learn more about the American Heart Association, make your way over to http://heart.org/.

North Texas Food Bank - The North Texas Food Bank is a nonprofit organization on a mission to create a hunger-free community. They currently operate 1,146 feeding programs around North Texas, and our Dallas office brought in nonperishable food items to donate. Check them out at http://ntfb.org/.

Houston Food Bank – Like the blood drives, our Houston crew wasn't going to be left behind when it came to supporting a local food bank. The Houston Food Bank is the largest Feeding America food bank in the nation. They currently feed around 865,000 people each year. Learn more at http://houstonfoodbank.org/.

Captain Hope's Kids – Captain Hope's Kids is an organization that helps homeless children to live as close to a normal life as possible. Aside from monetary donations they collect items like coats, toys, school supplies, and even baby formula. Visit their website at http://captainhope.org/.

Tour De Pink – Tour De Pink is an annual bike ride in Texas that raises money for breast cancer research, education and awareness campaigns. Head over to http://www.tourdepink.org/ to get the current fundraising total for 2011. Right now, they're just a hair under $350,000 raised. SoftLayer was honored to be the presenting sponsor of Tour De Pink, and we're looking forward to next year!

Toys for Tots – The U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program collects new and unwrapped toys for children who are less fortunate. The program then delivers these toys as Christmas gifts to the needy children in the community. In SoftLayer's offices, SLayers were encouraged to bring in new, unwrapped toys and gifts to give through this program. http://toysfortots.org/ has all the information you need about that program.

Community in Schools – Community in Schools is an organization that connects kids in school with mentors who can help them with problems inside and outside of the classroom. Many SoftLayer employees volunteer their time each week to help tutor and mentor kids in the Dallas area. If it's something you might like to get involved with, the Community in Schools website for the Dallas region is http://www.cisdallas.org/.

The other day someone said to me "If you can help and you are able to, then you should," and I am so grateful to be a part of a company who can help and does.

Happy Holidays!

-Summer

Categories: 
May 9, 2011

Will Write Poetry for Servers

Two weeks ago, I inadvertently opened the floodgates to a wave of creativity from the SoftLayer Development/Technology organization. Lance came by my office and dropped off a server he was given, and while I would have taken it home, souped it up and done something cool with it in previous years (or decades) in my life, I find myself in more of a "just buy an iMac" camp now.

Rather than endanger the safety of our employees by sending out a "First one to grab the server from my office gets to keep it" email, I sent out more of a challenge: "Write a haiku or limerick stating why you want the server. If I get more than one submission, I’ll pick the best poem. Oh ... And no Nantucket limericks."

I expected one or two entries to come in, but to my surprise, I was greeted with dozens almost immediately:

Windows NT crashed.
I am the Blue Screen of Death.
No one hears your screams.

There was a young man with a lance
Who had three kids to finance
Yes they look and they see
Asking for a PC
But their dad said no not a chance

Linux or Windows
Not up to how the wind blows
The penguin's a go

When you’re whipping your verse into shape
And are caught in a verse-challenged scrape,
The delete key is handy.
Assisted by brandy,
And last, but not least, try escape.

Given the overwhelming initial response, we sweetened the deal a little by adding a second server to the mix (from George). When it came time to judge and announce the winners, I had to do so with my own poem ... which killed me because I hadn't written a poem in years.

My inbox laden
Server Poets bring me pride
Rewards were doubled

There once was a SLayer named Bradley
Whose poem was flattering badly
He said 3BFL
We said ‘Oh, What the Hell’
And gave him a server quite gladly

Among numerous entries we found
That nerdy rhymes and rhymers abound
And so many came forth
Our hand was quite forced
So to the contest more servers were bound

Thus also a Slayer named Hemsell
Was chosen to leave with a morsel
Wash the zeros away
Rip and store CDs today
Make this sad server sing loud and fell

With generous swagger Karidis did add
A prize sure to make the cable co mad
For Scott Thompson’s poem
Was moving and solemn
An Apple TV should not make him sad

And finally the team of Hannon and Chong
Grammar and spelling and format all wrong
But their desire so true
And coding poetry new
Request will be supported so strong

Translation:

Server Winner: Bradley Johnson

One, two, three bar life
Free drink, free shirt, free server
Movie files need home

Server Winner: David Hemsell

CDs sit offline
Once proud server is no more
Fill barren zeros

Apple TV Winner: Scott Thompson

Your free server will
fail to bring much joy to me
I use Macintosh

Additional Computer-Related Award of Some Kind: Chong and Harold

import com.softlayer.server;
public class freeAssetReserver{
   int count = 0;
   String you = “hero”;
   function void vmBoxOursObserver();
}

Congratulations to Bradley and David for winning the servers and to Scott Thompson for walking away with the unadvertised Apple TV! When we were going through the submissions, we couldn't help but reward the submission from Chong and Harold - A coding limerick!

We'll post more of the submissions in the comments on this post, so be sure to scroll down and add your own!

-Duke

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